Utah Jazz are showing faith in Rodney Hood ahead of the 2017-18 season

(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Rodney Hood is coming off of another injury-plagued season but the Utah Jazz have full faith in him as they negotiate a contract extension.

The Utah Jazz lost almost 22 points per game when Gordon Hayward walked out the door. An already defensive-minded team lost its primary scorer and didn’t do much over the summer to alleviate the pressure on the current squad.

Perhaps it will come back to haunt them, but the Jazz front office has full confidence in this team filling the void. One man they think will do plenty in that regard is Rodney Hood.

The 24-year-old shooting guard drafted out of Duke University in the 2014 NBA Draft is in the final year of his rookie contract. Set to make only $2.3 million this season despite being expected to play a leading role, Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting Hood is already lining up an extension:

"“The two sides have had preliminary conversations as the Jazz hope Hood can become their primary perimeter scorer this season after Gordon Hayward left for the Boston Celtics. Another meeting is expected to occur in the next few weeks, according to league sources.”"

It’s a great show of good faith from the Jazz. A lot of teams would have delayed negotiations until the injured player had taken to the court. General manager Dennis Lindsey is a forward thinker, though. He will be making a point in how early both sides are entering negotiations and mold it into an expression of confidence.

Hood has only managed more than 60 games once in his three seasons with the Jazz. Injuries had him take the court just 59 times last season, where he averaged 12.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 40 percent. At risk of carrying the “injury-prone” tag into contract negotiations, Hood will be desperate to get on the court and speed up the process with some promising early-season performances.

With Utah’s signing of the best strength and conditioning coach in the business, Hood’s chances of shedding the dreaded tag increased exponentially. Mike Elliott arrived from the Phoenix Suns to take up the role as vice president of performance health care and will surely have had Hood as one of his first visitors — after Derrick Favors, perhaps — in his new office.

A look back at the 2015-16 season where Hood played 79 times offers up a good indication of his capabilities. He was able to take the floor consistently and the regular court time reflected in his numbers. He scored 14.5 points per game on 42 percent shooting with 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

While Hood’s development has been slowed down by injuries, Lindsey believes he can become an 18 points per game player if given a chance, telling the Salt Lake Tribune:

"“We think Rodney has the potential to be in that 18 points per game range. We had some perimeter talent become available to us. But we have to let Ricky [Rubio] have the ball, and we have to let Rodney become the offensive wing we know he can be.”"

Perhaps the Jazz are rushing into an extension with Hood when they don’t have to. He is a restricted free agent in 2018 so they have the upper hand, after all. But based on the summer that just passed, locking up players has become of paramount importance. Conceivably, the front office could be a little anxious after losing their franchise player over the summer.

Nevertheless, with a proven ability for taking an under-the-radar scorer and turning him into an All-Star, Hood will be eager to stay in Utah. He will no doubt take comfort in the fact the Jazz are already trying to sign him up which can only help further down the road.

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It’s a good move all around and one that can quickly be justified with Hood returning to the floor on Oct. 18 at full health.